The Mount St. Mary’s women’s lacrosse team had not trailed by two goals in a game against a Northeast Conference opponent all spring.
So when the Mountaineers found themselves falling behind, 3-1, early against visiting Wagner on Saturday afternoon, there must have been some concern, right? Maybe even a little irritation?
“I don’t think there was any anger,” graduate student attacker Kate Kinsella said. “I think we were just like, ‘Let’s go. We’ve got this. We’re perfectly fine.’ We just all wanted to work together and work for each other.”
Added senior goalkeeper Jenna Oler: “We don’t get flustered easily. We were still being positive. We were like, ‘OK, we’ve got this. We know we’re going to pick it up.’ And we did. It’s never anger. We’re just trying to pump each other up.”
That demeanor served Mount St. Mary’s well as the team used a 9-3 second half to outdistance the Seahawks in a 15-9 victory before an announced 120 at Waldron Family Stadium.
The Mountaineers (11-2, 10-0 NEC) remained one of the hottest teams at the NCAA Division I level. With their 10th consecutive victory, they tied No. 2 Northwestern for the nation’s second-longest current winning streak, trailing only No. 1 North Carolina’s 13-game run.
Mount St. Mary’s also clinched at least a share of the league’s regular-season championship, which the program claimed in 2019. The team can take full ownership of the title with two more victories to close the season, including a finale at second-place Long Island (9-2, 7-2) on Saturday.
That scenario, however, seemed tenuous when the Seahawks overcame a 1-0 deficit with three goals in a span of 1:45 to assume a 3-1 lead with 25:53 left in the first half — the Mountaineers’ first two-goal hole since a 10-8 loss at Navy on Feb. 20. Coach Lauren Skellchock, who called a timeout after Wagner’s third goal, said the objective was to help the players to settle into the rhythm of the game.
“I just wanted to get them to regroup,” she said. “I don’t think I ever had a doubt in my mind for our team. We just had to slow their momentum down and make sure that we were slowing the pace of play a little bit, meaning not stopping our fast breaks, but taking better decisions with the ball coming out of our defensive end and then making sure that we were getting into our sets and getting organized on the offensive end.”
Mount St. Mary’s responded by scoring five unanswered goals over 17:02 before the Seahawks ending the first half with a 3-0 run over 1:47 to knot the score at 6 at halftime.
After junior attacker Maria Henwood converted a pass from junior midfielder Ally Turner with 27:38 left in the second half to give Wagner a 7-6 lead, the Mountaineers went on a 5-0 run over a 9:48 stretch to assume an 11-7 advantage that never got closer than three for the remainder of the game.
With graduate student attacker Sara Moeller, who entered the game leading the offense in assists (20) and points (50), unavailable due to illness and senior attacker Jordan Butler (John Carroll) compiling more turnovers (six) than goals (one), Kinsella sparked the offense with five of her career-high six goals in the second half, including 3-of-4 on free-position chances.
“I’m obviously excited that I did well, but I’m more excited that we beat Wagner again,” said Kinsella, who was complemented by three goals from senior attacker Alayna Pagnotta (Glenelg). “And we’re probably going to have to play them again, and we know that we can beat them for the third time.”
Skellchock noted that despite Butler’s troubles at scoring, she finished with a game-high four assists, junior midfielder Jordan Groover scored twice, and junior attacker Erin Anderson (Westminster) had one goal and one assist.
“I always tell them that I want us to be dynamic,” Skellchock said of the offense’s versatility. “If Jordan’s not having her way with her defender on a given day, then she’s going to be a playmaker. That’s the kind of team we have. They rally behind each other. They don’t care who’s scoring. We have so many scoring threats that just playing against any team, we’re going to be hard to scout.”
After the Seahawks scored six goals on 13 shots in the first half, they converted only three of 13 attempts in the second. Oler (Wilde Lake) made five of her eight saves in the final frame, and after midfielders Erin Kerstetter and Kasey Dorney combined for five goals on eight shots in the first half, they were shut out on five more attempts in the second.
Oler said the key was trying to force someone other than Kerstetter to initiate.
“She is the heart of their offense,” she said. “She will take it around up top and down low. So I just think it was calling out early what she’s doing because it’s really easy to tell when she’s about to drive. [It also helped] having two people to try to slow her down because she is fast. I think we just called it out early and were able to get a step on her.”
Dorney also totaled one assist, 12 draw controls, four ground balls and two caused turnovers, and Turner added two goals and one assist. But coach Michelle Tumolo said struggles on offense crippled Wagner (5-4, 5-3).
“They have a great one-v-one, man-to-man defense, but we were just not capitalizing on the opportunities that we had,” she said. “We had some shots that could’ve went in. So it was definitely an offensive thing on our end.”
ST. FRANCIS@MT. ST. MARY’S
Wednesday, 3 p.m.